Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Decision Support System for Soil and Water Conservation Measures.

Andreas Klik1, Werner Jester2, Andreas Muhar2, Axel Mentler2, Nicola Rampazzo2, and Michael Eder2. (1) AUSTRIA,Ag. Univ.-Vienna, BOKU University Vienna, Muthgasse 18, Vienna, A-1190, AUSTRIA, (2) BOKU Univ, Muthgasse 18, Vienna, A-1190, Austria

Soil erosion and associated nutrient translocation cause damages on the field but also off-site. Erosion and deposition change the soil structure and soil’s physical and chemical composition on the field and may lead to less favourable growing conditions for plants. Sedimentation outside the agricultural unit causes costs for dredging road ditches or flood detention basins for example. Furthermore nutrient inputs into surface water bodies affect their water quality and may lead to eutrophication. Several simulation models are available to assess the amount of soil erosion and sediment yield in agricultural used areas. These models allow the calculation/evaluation of ecological and environmental impacts of erosion processes but are not able to cover also socio-economic and economic aspects. For comprehensive planning of sustainable land use of agricultural watersheds the consideration of  ecological as well economical factors is imperative. Objective of this study was to develop and apply a decision support system (DSS) for sustainable agricultural land use planning with respect to following goals: 1) to conserve and improve soil quality, soil fertility and local water balance, 2) to minimize soil and nutrient translocation into surface water bodies and downstream fields, and 3) to optimize benefits for the farmers as well as for the society. The DSS consists of a soil erosion and a phosphorus transport model to cover the ecological effects, of an economical model for the monetary assessment, and of a value benefit analyses for evaluation and ranking of the compared scenarios.
The results showed that under the existing agricultural and economical framework in Austria conservation tillage systems and cover crops during the winter season are favourable soil protection systems. All other compared treatments did not fulfil the required economical and ecological targets. The developed DSS has a great potential to be used by public administration and policy for decision making in sustainable land use planning.